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Web 2.0 graphics – already becoming repetitious

Greetings from inside the SEOigloo!

To the left, you will see my very first attempt at copycatting the ‘web 2.0’ graphics hype. For the record, and because everyone else sees the need to say this whenever this subject arises, web 2.0 doesn’t really have anything to do with visuals. In a nutshell, it’s basically about the web becoming more completely interactive and human-driven. If you’ve never heard of web 2.0 before, Wikipedia’s definition will either make it all become clear to you, or will frighten you so badly that you’ll instantly revert to playing Space Invaders on the 12″ black-and-white television in your basement.

I have to say, I find it not a little ironic that the graphic look being attached to the supposedly socially-oriented web 2.0 technology is really the reverse of man-made in appearance. It’s so shiny, clean and flawless – the very opposite of we humans and the works of our hands. On the other hand, I’d be the last to advocate a return to the days when most web logos looked like this:

I tend to be a person who is drawn towards the unique. Trends and fads, though sometimes interesting to observe, leave me saying ‘ho-hum’. Check out this Flickr feature and you’ll begin to see from the scores of examples of web 2.0 logos a sameness that quickly becomes repetitious. The fat, rounded fonts, the lime green and turquoise, the shiny letters and reflections. Yes, they look ultra-modern, very high-tech, very now. For companies whose current reputation is highly staked on continuously producing the next big thing, the need to look with-it is certainly understandable. Yet, for the most part, the logos really don’t tell me anything about the company except that they’ve retained the services of a skilled designer with an up-to-date tool kit.

I do actually think that some of the new designs are quite nice. I like the simple, clean feeling of them, and that is, indeed, a change from the clutter of yesterday. My favorite web 2.0 logo at this point would be Campfire’s

There’s something kind of welcoming and draws-you-in about that little graphic. Unfortunately, Feedburner’s logo is so similar to Campfire’s that it makes you wonder if the same fellow designed both.

In general, you don’t want your business to be confused with someone else’s unless you are deliberately attempting to steal their customers. In this case, Feedburner and Campfire are totally unrelated services, so it’s not likely to be a problem, but what if you’re selling the same thing as the guy down the block, and you’ve both got lime green web 2.0 logos with a rounded arial font and a floor reflection? Because it’s always been a concept of the Internet that you want to stand out in the world wide crowd, jumping on a design bandwagon that’s going to potentially a) make you look exactly like your competition, and b) make you look totally dated in 3 years may not be the way to go.

This website posted an incredibly popular and kinda nifty thread allowing users to post 2.0 redesigns of famous logos. It’s fun to look at these, and impressive to see the design skill of the folks who created them, but should Google really change that famous stick-figurish logo, just for the sake of being glossy? Obviously, Google is such a giant they could probably decide to have a photo of Matt Cutt’s cat represent their company and people would still find them and, dare I say, ‘google’ things. They don’t need to convince anyone that they are trendsetters who are considered the grade. Should Coca-Cola get shiny? How about UPS? That slanty cursive and that brown/yellow color scheme have been around for a long, long time.

I would have to say that appropriateness has got to be the deciding factor when it comes to creating a visual feeling that appeals to a given audience. While the grandmas of tomorrow may be laughing to themselves one day about the way-back-when of web 2.0, today’s grandmas are still likely looking for something warm and friendly when they are shopping for baby blankets for their grandkids. Remember, grandmas represent a LOT of the buying power in the e-commerce world and they probably aren’t going to be all that impressed by an aura of spit and polish. Web/graphic designers tend to be hyper-focused on the coolest new technology, and there is always the danger of buying in too heavily to the trends of an insular community. I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that regular folks care more about good deals, shopping ease and customer service than they do about coolness.

I continue to feel, as I always have, that simplicity needs to be the guiding force in anything web-related. Because of this, the web 2.0 look makes good sense. But if I were a new web business owner, just starting to brand and promote my company, I would definitely think twice before tying my company logo to any graphic style that was already being parodied within months of it becoming a buzzword. Just my 2.0 cents!